Just as we had hoped for, Brinley's first few days have not been bad. Aside from a few minor issues, she says her knees hurt every now and then, and her jaw a couple of times, she seems to be feeling okay. We kind of figured the steroids would take a week or so to kick in full force, and she did have an hour long kicking and screaming tantrum on Friday over lunch, that was interesting. We just have to try REALLY hard to not make her mad and things go smoother. But if she gets mad, it's like the Hulk. I need to teach her how to say "You don't want to see me angry!"

On Friday I talked to Jade about how Brinley has to take some medicine for her cancer that makes her really mean, and if Brinley is mean to her, it's because she has to take the yucky medicine and she doesn't mean it. Jade was so sweet, she kept singing Brinley songs during her tantrums, the whole time while Brinley was screaming NO NO NO at her. She didn't give up, she sang in her soft little voice to her sister and tried so hard to make her happy. It was so sweet. She would try to find toys for her, or ask her to play, anything she could think of. Of course none of it worked, but it sure made me happy to see her being so sweet to her sister.

Today she went outside with David and the girls and played in the snow. She had fun. By the end of the day she was starting to look a little sick to me, and did a few dry heaves, but never threw up, so I don't think she was feeling great, but she seemed in good spirits for the most part. We had my brother JD's family over for pizza and she had some fun.

She is sleeping all night still, and if it can stay like this that would be nice. I can handle the temper tantrums and wacky eating if she is sleeping. Three days down, 57 to go!

Today was the start of Delayed Intensification. It is a two month phase, and it's just as the name suggests, more intense chemo. So we went to clinic, where she got several different chemo medicines, first an anti-nausea medicine to keep her from vomiting, then vincristine, doxorubicin (a new one for her), and IT methotrexate (into the spinal fluid). We also started the steroid again when we got home, and she was NOT happy about taking oral meds again. She is already not feeling well today, she's had a lot of meltdowns since clinic. She didn't want to go today. Neither did I.
Here is how this phase will go: The first month will be very similar to induction, except the steroids are a week on and a week off, and she will have the new drug, doxorubicin. Side effects: nausea/vomiting, hair loss, pink urine (the drug is red), low blood counts, and mouth sores. They have to check her heart function, because this drug can cause heart damage. They usually see it more in higher doses than what Brinley is getting. We will go in every week to get the vincristine and doxorubicin. The second month will be all new drugs. The oncologist said the second month can be rough on the body, and we will probably see a lot of low blood counts. So we will plan on not getting out much and limiting visitors. Dr. Druzgal said most kids wind up in-patient for part of this phase. She will go in on Monday to get a PEG shot in her leg, the same one she had during induction. Then she'll go in every Thursday for her chemo. I think we are looking at a long couple of months, but then we will be on to Long Term Maintenance!!

Let me try this again, I'm feeling much better, I think the iron supplements are helping and my body was just screaming for some attention this last week! So I'll do a retake of my earlier post now that I'm feeling better.

This has been a hard year, I won't take that back. It's been so so hard. But I have never felt so blessed in my life, and we have had so many good things this year.

This year, David's job loss led us here to Salt Lake, and this is where we are supposed to be. We love it here, and Brinley is in good hands with her doctors. DUH! Blessing in disguise.....David loves his new job and is so happy there.

This year, we have been surrounded by amazing people who are taking care of us, even though both of our parents are in Las Vegas. The world is a good place to live in. I have learned to never take this life for granted, even when I am frustrated and discouraged, to be alive is a blessing. I know that and will never forget it. I have learned to never take my children for granted. Every breath they take, every beat of their heart, tells me they are alive, and here with me to share this life and make it more joyful. The other day Jade wanted me to feel her heartbeat, and I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude for life, for the blood running through her veins, for the miracle of the human body, and I knew that every breath we take here on earth is a blessing given from a loving Heavenly Father. How many breaths is that in the last year?? Lots of blessings.....every second I get to spend with my family is precious. Every time we laugh together, or cry together, or hurt together, that is a blessing.

This year we found out how fragile life is, and how quickly things can change. How we had taken these things for granted! We discovered that life is much more simple than we had thought. We found out what was important to us. I no longer care what kind of car I drive, or how fancy my house is decorated, or whether or not we can afford to go to Hawaii. I care about how much we laugh together, play together, and pray together, how often we hug and say I love you, and whether or not my kids are happy. I remember posting that our family was coming apart at the seams during the first month. Now I see how we are stronger, and although there are moments where we FEEL like things are still falling apart, the overall picture is more visible, and we see our family strengthening in ways we couldn't have imagined.

This year, we have seen a world of compassion, and goodness, and charity.

This year we have sought out comfort from the Lord, and received it in abundance. Through scriptures, hymns, prayer, other people, I have received the comfort I have asked for, and then some. I remember when one of the apostles from our church passed away recently, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, and it was right after he had given a talk at conference that was meant for me. I can't help but think that Heavenly Father kept him on this earth long enough to give me that message. Here's a link if you want to listen to it: Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin. It helped me so much. It was titled "Come What May and Love it". I don't know what this next year will bring for us, but I have to say "come what may." We'll get through it, whatever it is. It's amazing how faith can replace fear, suddenly it doesn't matter what happens, because I know there is a purpose for everything. WHATEVER happens, even if it's not what I'm asking for, it's OKAY. Because the Lord is in my life and I know without a doubt that He has a plan, that He sent his Son, not only the Savior of the World, but also my personal Savior, so that He could take away our pain and suffering.

I can't begin to tell you the spiritual experiences I have had, most of them too personal to share. So has this year been hard? Yes. It has. Has this year been good? Yes. It has. It has been both. And so will next year. Happy New Year!